New To The Hobby! The First Stages Of My Journey...

  • #1
Well, at least that is what I am claiming. We have had fish in the house before, tried to keep betas a couple times (how incompetent am I when you have trouble keeping your betas around), and had a couple small 10 gallon tanks many years ago when the kids were younger. If memory serves me right we kept common pet store small goldfish in that tank and they lasted a while but eventually passed.

I had sworn that for the good of fish everywhere I would not keep another tank.

Then we bought our new house two years ago. Built into the wall downstairs was a massive bow front fish tank, which came with the house. It was built in, and later research said that while this particular tank was from a company that has not existed for years, equivalent tanks could run upwards of $800, not to mention the effort of having built into the wall in the first place! The previous owner was the gentleman who built the house 28 years previously, ran his construction company, and had it set up as a living reef saltwater tank. I asked him how much effort that was and he said not at all, a friend of his ran the service and he just paid his friend to maintain the tank! No help whatsoever, although he did let me know that the amount he paid weekly was well more than I could ever afford for a hobby with two small kids.

Given my aforementioned vow concerning fish we actually looked at the time and effort it would take to convert that into a bookshelf area, but the lure of a tank that big when I was told larger tanks are easier to keep and the waist and shame it seems it would have been to turn such a feature into a simple bookshelf meant we left it there. When we refinanced a couple months back we ended up due to an error with a small check (we were meeting just to convert from FHA to conventional, not to cash out).

We decided to go ahead and set up a freshwater tank, as saltwater was well beyond our reach at this point, and honestly not something we were interested in at this stage of our lives. I went to a couple places locally (Tampa Florida) that specialized both in designing/setting up tanks and specialized as a fish store rather than a general pet store. I decided that if we were going to do this, rather than trying to learn enough to set it up myself through forums and advice I would pay the extra for their experience and have them set up the tank. The people I decided to work or phenomenal. Their names are John and Jennifer, a married couple who runs the store, and the store is Fish and other Ichthy stuff. (I just wanted to give them a shout out for their help, if I am not allowed to post a link like this to their Facebook page let me know and I will take it down). The store is set up primarily around saltwater tanks and fish but they still handled freshwater tanks – they just did not stock much for freshwater in the store.

They came out and inspected the tank. We discussed things for a while and settled on a planted freshwater tank due to the benefit the planted tank would have as far as helping maintain the tank balance. The eventual goal is not for them to maintain the tank, but for my wife and I to learn to do that ourselves. They are going to do some hand-holding with me over the next several weeks as we complete the plan. We had a three stage plan plus initial work done, and they came out and inspected the tank.

Stage 0: (preparation) John came out and investigated the tank as mentioned above. Apparently, when they disassembled the saltwater system they left some of the piping going outside (a component of the living reef section was actually set up outside the house, I have no idea how common this is. The preparation stage involved removing and sealing up the plumbing from the overflow baffles, closing out the piping going outside which will finally allow me to take down the box outside that held debris from the previous system. This also involved cleaning the tank and testing it with tap water to be sure that the tank did not have any leaks. Aside from a minor leak in one of the baffles that John was able to repair we had no surprises here. This is good because there was no way I could afford to replace the fish tank on top of everything else! Our plan would have come to a crashing halt right there if the tank was unsound.

Stage I: (Set up) In my profile I like to set up a list of everything I have in the tank, I thought I saw references to such a profile when I was reading the forums a couple weeks ago learning about the hobby. However, I cannot yet edit my profile. I have long been a believer in spending a little more when it is feasible on higher quality equipment for anything at first rather than having to continually monitor and upgrade shoddy equipment, and also as a novice in the hobby I was hoping that this would increase my chances of not getting hauled off by PETA! <grin>. Over a course of about four hours John and Jennifer putting a substrate, the various equipment that would be needed, planted the first set of plants, and filled the tank. If I cannot set everything up in the profile I will reply to this are set up another post where I list the specific equipment used (because that will probably help when I ask for advice later). This is a link to a small photo album that Jennifer created on their Facebook page showing that set up. Again if this is not allowed please let me know and I will remove it. Here is a link to my album. Stage I

Stage II: (There be fish) A week later some more of the plants had come into the wholesaler and the initial fish. Jennifer came back out and added the additional plants. She told me that it was due to the freshwater plants that we had that start up cycle go so quickly, I seem to remember reading it can take much longer than a week to get a tank ready for fish if you are not using a planted aquarium. I am going to need help in a different post identifying all the plants, and I am fairly sure she included a couple extra from her own tank that are not on my invoice, so I do not have a Comprehensive list of the plants. Our starting set of fish were 14 cardinal Tetris, six gold barbs, six neo dwarf rainbow, six boesemanI rainbow and four millennium rainbow. When we were first considering the tanks we got a list of a bunch of different possible fish to be featured in the tank and my 10-year-old daughter decided that rainbow for sure her favorite, so that is what we have. Link to my album: Stage II

Stage III: (final editions) Jennifer is planning on coming back out in about three weeks. At that point we will add some bottom feeders, were still discussing possibilities although clown loach seem to be the leaders at the moment. We might get two different kinds, not sure yet. We also discussed that the tank could probably have additional occupants, such as another school of small fish like Tetris or perhaps another 4 to 6 of another rainbow subspecies. We're waiting to see how well the plants do, how the well the tank establishes itself before deciding.

This is a very long first post, and assuming that I do not link a lot of photos in this post but post them in the photo gallery, correct? I went from probably the least excited about the specifics of the tank, just happy to not have a big black hole in the wall of that room, to really getting into the specifics and details. Both John and Jennifer were extraordinarily patient with me, answering all sorts of questions as I pestered them while they were trying to set up the tank!

Edited to add links to the photo albums mentioned in post 10.
  • #2
HI and welcome to fishlore!

That sounds amazing!
What are the dimensions of the tank?
  • Thread Starter
  • #3
The tank is 6 feet wide, 2 feet tall and in the deepest part of the bow front is 2 feet deep. And told it is an old 155 gallon tank, although it took about 160 gallons to fill it including the canister filtration system that has been connected.

I have a bunch of photos on my Google drive, as soon as I can figure out a way to include them in an album here I will start posting some, but I just figured out how to get the photos from my phone to Google drive in the first place! Although I am a very accomplished computer user and I am sure I can figure it out, I just have not really messed much with media and photos until now.

I do not mean to reply to myself, but I could not figure out a way to edit the previous post as I realized I forgot to include something. It was the width of the tank, 6 feet, it helped us decide on the rainbow fish. I am told that they like a lot of room to run and play and this tank certainly has that....
  • #4
Welcome to Fishlore! Your tank is beautiful!
  • #5
Wow, what a bonus for the house buy! Looks good and kudos to getting pros to help. Now you will begin to look at aquascapes and then you are really sunk lol.
  • #6
Man oh man oh man. You hit the jackpot. I'm not crazy about bow fronts, but your tank makes me think twice about getting one. But it would have to be a long one like yours.
I'm definitely flowing this.
  • #7
The tank looks beautiful!! Welcome to fishlore
  • #8
wayyyyyyy better than I could ever amagine as a first tank. and all I have is a five gallon betta tank. you're so lucky
  • Thread Starter
  • #9
Thanks, everyone! As soon as I can figure out how to get some pictures in the album or as soon it lets me post tank details (I still receive a "you do not have permission" message when I follow that link) I will update the thread.
  • Thread Starter
  • #10
I do not know if I am doing this right, I created two albums. The first album is from stage one, the second is stage II which is how the tank is currently. The stage II album includes a bunch of close-ups of plants that I am going to post in the identify this plant forum.

If I am doing this right, I am embedding links to the two albums below. I do not know if there are easy ways to go to see link albums or see albums from specific members, so if this is redundant then I apologize.

Stage I

Stage II

This is the part where waiting is hard, I cannot wait for the next three or four weeks to pass so I can see if these plants thrive and so that we get to the point where we add the last wave of fish, or at least the last wave intended for this initial set up phase. Some of the plants have brown leaves or leaves with browning spots, which I guess is not unheard of due to transplant difficulty/shock. However, most of the plants in that condition also have some new growth starting already. I have read that one mistake beginners make is to think that a plant is already dead/dying when just being patient would result in the new growth appearing.

So here it is, I love to hear what you think!

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